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My mother and I were listing places in the country where we'd never been, and so of course I mentioned Norfolk, which remains terra incognita for me. My mother on the other hand visited in 1939, when she went to see her newly-married sister and brother-in-law in King's Lynn. They visited nearby Sandringham while she was there, and she tells me that she was struck by the number of men in the village who looked exactly like Edward VII. You'd swear there was a family resemblance, apparently. This is the kind of thing that doesn't make it into conventional histories, so I set it down here for us all to ponder upon.

(Meanwhile, the blatant way in which the latest wodge of cronies has bribed its way into the House of Lords has been remarked on even by the BBC.)
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Despite myself I'm beginning to feel rather fond of Lord Howell, the ermined fuckwit who called the north-east of England "desolate" yesterday. Speaking to The Telegraph today he has apologized and explained that he actually meant to insult the north-west. So that's all right.

Parody cannot improve on the original...

What was in my mind was much more the drilling going on off the Lancashire coast. But it came out of my mouth as the North East, which you can blame me for rightly. And that has created a great furore.

The North East wasn’t in my mind at all. Afterwards, I checked my words again, playing back the debate.

It was a stupid error of mine to mention anywhere at all. The general story is right – that we want the derricks for fracking to be far away from residences in unloved places that are not environmentally sensitive. I don’t want to see gas fracking subsidised like wind farms are. A lot more care must be taken than has been the case with wind farms, which have caused terrible desecration. It’s odd that they’ve decided to do this in sensitive places down in Sussex.

In unrelated news, the Court of Appeal today recommended that the DPP give further consideration to the guidelines for assisted euthanasia.
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Defenders of the House of Lords often advance the idea that, although it has no democratic mandate of any kind, this deficit is made up for by the wisdom and expertise of its members. This strikes me as being about as persuasive as "I'm sure Will and Kate will make great parents - they have such lovely smiles." Having heard the ludicrous arguments advanced in the Lords against same sex marriage recently, along with innumerable editions of Today in Parliament, frankly I'm not inclined to rate the majority of the cronies, clerics, timeservers and superannuated buffoons who festoon the red benches as some kind of intellectual elite.

But don't take my word for it. Here's Lord Howell of Guildford in Surrey, arguing what his son-in-law George Osborne no doubt believes but is not yet oblivious enough to say out loud, about the environmental effects of fracking:

Would you accept that it could be a mistake to think of and discuss fracking in terms of the whole of the United Kingdom in one go? I mean there obviously are, in beautiful natural areas, worries about not just the drilling and the fracking, which I think are exaggerated, but about the trucks, and the delivery, and the roads, and the disturbance, and those are quite justified worries. But there are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in part of the North East where there's plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence, where we could conduct without any kind of threat to the rural environment. So would you agree with me, that the distinction should be made between one area and another, rather than lump them all together?"

Of course, he has now left skid marks on the wool sack from all his hasty back-tracking - but you know fine well he means it.

While we're here - via Cheryl Morgan - the Brighton Argus dropped a turd of an article onto the mats of its many GLBT readers in the wake of the UK's Europes first trans* pride festival last week - noting its existence only at the end of an article about a local dog show.

Stay classy, Argus. [ETA: The Argus has now apologized, and is running a proper article on the event in tomorrow's paper. Result!]
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''The Government can't create jobs. The Government can create the environment which is conducive to the creation of jobs but it cannot create jobs and we mislead ourselves if we believe it can.''

Thus spake Lord Myners (until recently a Labour finance minister) in Parliament yesterday. It's not the way of the Lords to cry "Bullshit!", so I am performing a service by doing it for them. I mean, has Lord Myners not heard of the public sector? Soldiers, nurses, teachers, civil servants, police officers, and all that jazz? Where does he imagine those jobs come from? Perhaps he thinks that the Government only "creates the environment" in which nurses will be needed - perhaps by making people feel ill - and then watches them magically precipitate? Or maybe it's like the way people put up nest boxes in the hope that a blue tit will make its home there. Imagine the excitement at the Department of Education: "Hey, remember that school we built in the centre of Dewsbury? I just checked the webcam, and we've got teachers!"

Actually, if Lord Myners wants to see an example of a job created very directly by government, he need look no further than Lord Myners. Paul Myners was given his job as Financial Services Secretary directly by the government of Gordon Brown, which also (because of course we don't bother with details such as democracy in New Labour) made him a life peer. It's a pretty good job, in fact. You can't be sacked, unless you commit a serious criminal offence; you can come in as often or as seldom as you like; you get rather impressive perks; there's no interview to go through; and, under current recommendations you are due a pay increase of over 24.5% this year, while many of us elsewhere in the public sector have enjoyed an increase of... [checks pay slips]... ah yes, nothing at all. How odd that Lord Myners didn't think of himself and all the other members of the House of Lords when he made that statement, considering where he made it.

Still, it's certainly a boost to the old morale to be told by someone like Lord Myners - whose own main claim to fame is that he approved Fred Goodwin's pension arrangments - that you don't exist, or that your job is not a real job because it's not directly generating wealth for UK PLC, or whatever else he might have meant. I expect plenty more of the same, though: public sector workers are clearly due to be demonized as parasites over the next few months. One comfort is that if this is an example of a Labour minister, the transition to the Tories will be barely perceptible.

On the other hand, I do blame him for last night's venal dream.


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